Can you tell a good article from a bad based on the abstract and the title alone?

Many times people only have access to the abstract of peer-review articles, and nothing more. There are different abstract styles (sometimes they’re going too far or on the contrary) in the literature and I’d be curious to hear about your opinion on the following review abstract and title. I became interested and suspicious reading these lines especially the one highlighted in bold.

Mitochondria, the missing link between body and soul: Proteomic prospective evidence.

Mohamad Warda, Jin Han, Proteomics. 2008 Jan 23, DOI: 10.1002/pmic.200700695

Mitochondria are the gatekeepers of the life and death of most cells that regulate signaling, metabolism, and energy production needed for cellular function. Therefore, unraveling of the genuine mitochondrial proteome, as the dynamic determinant of structural-functional integrity to the cellular framework, affords a better understanding of many still-hidden secrets of life behind the already known static genome. Given the critical mitochondrial role under different stress conditions, the aim of the current review is to merge the available scientific data related to mitochondrial proteomes and frame them into a reliable new agreement extending beyond the limited already accepted endosymbiotic hypothesis into broader fundamental mechanisms orchestrating cellular outcome on behalf of cell survival. The focus of this work is to cover first the mitochondrial proteome/genome interplay that is currently believed to be implicated in a range of human diseases. The mechanochemical coupling between mitochondria and different cytoskeleton proteins and the impact of the mitoskeleton on mitochondrial structure and function are then addressed. Further crosstalk between mitochondria and other cellular organelles, e.g., the ER and the nucleus is then discussed. Additionally, the role of mitochondria in apoptosis and the mitochondrial contribution in intercellular communication mediated by gap junctions are also described. These data are presented with other novel proteomics evidence to disprove the endosymbiotic hypothesis of mitochondrial evolution that is replaced in this work by a more realistic alternative. Furthermore, the role of mitochondria in development of oxidative stress-based diseases, e.g., neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases is pointed out together with the prospective proteomics view as an alternative prognostic and diagnostic tool for interpreting many mitochondria-related anomalies. The insights generated by recent proteomic research that provide a rational impact on possible mitochondrial-targeted therapeutic interventions are also discussed.

23 thoughts on “Can you tell a good article from a bad based on the abstract and the title alone?

  1. After a section on how gosh-darn complicated the protein interactions are, the paper contains the telling quote:

    ” More logically, the points that show proteomics overlapping between different forms of life are more likely to be interpreted as a reflection of a single common fingerprint initiated by a mighty creator than relying on a single cell that is, in a doubtful way, surprisingly originating all other kinds of life.”

    In other words, standard creationist hookum.

  2. This one is really weird. Did it slip by the editors because it’s a lengthy, wordy review of mitochondrial structure and function, some of which is quite reasonable? The standard of written English is awful as well. I’ve no idea how this made it into a reputable, peer-reviewed journal.

  3. Great Job
    It is the first article I read that describes applied science and connects it with origin of life of mitochondria.
    From such work we know how we can protect ourselves from aging by reducing calories.
    I like it so much the similarity between ischemia/reperfusion and immune response
    Thanks for allowing the access of such excellent article

  4. Well,
    Regardless to language, the authors have strong scientific basics. If any tried to touch the reality of evolution, he will then be dammed!!!
    Authors are more realistic than tones of those claim doing science, however they playing around science—fiction.

  5. As has already been pointed out, this article is some bizarre effort to sneak intelligent design/creationist nonsense into a legitimate journal.
    If Wiley and the journal Proteomics allow this into print (it is currently only “published” online) they can kiss goodbye to any hope that Proteomics will ever again be regarded as a serious scientific publication.
    The entire section 3.4 is complete drivel, full of distortions and (possibly intentional) misinterpretations and misunderstandings.
    For example:
    “The proof of SET was based on the parallel connection between plant mitochondrial and phage T4 genome replication.”
    This is completely false.
    Reference 111 is used as critical support for some more of their claims, but that paper doesn’t have anything to do with mitochondria or evolution.
    The Warda/Han paper contains scientifically incorrect information (even when not used in the context of blatant intelligent design proselytizing). For example the authors write:
    “In addition to a variety of new approaches, proteomics still relies heavily on 2-DE as the underlying technology.”
    The authors claim to have done (and I think cite a paper describing) a proteomics study of cardiomyocyte mitochondria, yet apparently are not even aware that for proteomic studies of anything where exhaustive cataloguing of proteins is desired, 2-DE is not used, for the reasons they (at least in part) list. Such work now is done on unprocessed mitochondria (or other cellular fractions) employing complete trypsin digests of unfractionated material being fed through LC/LC/MS/MS (or sometimes LC/LC/LC/MS/MS) systems.

    Then there are the simply foolish comments such as:
    “Despite the generosity of supplying life with the required energy, mitochondria have the privilege of restricting or even terminating it by provoking apoptosis during certain cellular events.”
    Apparently we are to believe that mitochondria are virtual deities in themselves with the power of life or death over all eukaryotes that possess them. It is not clear to whom bacteria answer in this scheme.
    Or how about:
    “Alternatively, instead of sinking into a swamp of endless debates about the evolution of mitochondria, it is better to come up with a unified assumption that all living cells undergo a certain degree of convergence or divergence to or from each other to meet their survival in specific habitats.”
    On one level what they are describing are standard evolutionary assumptions while trying pretend they are suggesting something revolutionary.
    However with their phrasing, the image that I get is that Warda and Han are proposing cells text message each other about what their plans for the next few years are.
    In their conclusion they add:
    “… we still need to know the secret behind this disciplined organized wisdom. We realize so far that mitochondria could be the link between the body and this preserved wisdom of the soul devoted to guaranteeing life.”
    I am puzzled as to why they are wasting valuable time in science, or whatever you would describe what they do. Surely they realize that all of the answers are in the Bible (or Quran), the unchallengeable and irrefutable word of God. I can’t cite chapter and verse but surely they can.
    Now had they proposed that mitochondria are really the Holy Ghost I might buy that because in Sunday School I could never figure out the Holy Ghost. I still can’t, in fact.

    From a scientific point of view, I can’t imagine anyone who knows much about the ways cells are constructed and operate proposing the term “disciplined organized wisdom”. Cells are a complicated, chaotic mess, a Rube Goldberg machine in its finest form. Biology is, in fact, replete with “incompetent design” and astonishingly poor in “intelligent design”. And one of the foundations of ‘incompetent design’ is ‘intractable complexity’.
    One should marvel that cells work at all rather than propose they are part of an elegant, clever, grand and direct, intentional design by an omniscient creator, with or without a fingerprint.

    I generated and published among the first, solid and accepted molecular evidence for the endosymbiotic hypothesis for the origins of mitochondria. The specifics for the process of how mitochondria arose to be part of most extant eukaryotic cells are still being discussed, as indeed are some of the finer points of evolution itself. But no respectable, sane biologist disputes the reality, the fact, of biological evolution nor that mitochondria (and chloroplasts) trace their origins to free-living bacteria, that, through an obviously complex series of processes over about a billion years, became integrated into the complex ‘machine’ we call the eukaryotic cell.

    All this writing has made me hungry for bananas. Where’s the nearest banana tree?

  6. Being a christian and mathematician, not biologist, i can still see the problem words right away:

    body and soul, disprove evolution
    “missing link between body and soul”

    I wouldn’t use the word ‘soul’ in a scientific paper.

    Wonder what Proteomics means

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  8. The abstract to me is like the Cliff Notes so it better be thorough or you are trouble. I think most people who really know how to read abstracts can sift through the filler and fluff and figure out which articles are worth reading. Well I think.

  9. Very interesting point the author has because as I started to read the Abstract I thought it was terrific but the bolded highlight confused me too. It was then I thought this might lead to more conjecture than fact. I’ve never even thought of that before and will always second guess the abstracts and wonder if the articles will be worthwile

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